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Poems by Laura Mullen
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White Box (notes)

by Laura Mullen

Object: tiny white box the size of a sugar cube,
White outside like a sugar cube white like like
Easily mistaken for a sugar cube, placed in a bowl full of white
Sugar cubes after being first touched with glue and then rolled in white
Sugar (Domino brand) and allowed to dry thoroughly. Hole
Barely larger than a pin prick on one surface

    A) your own eye reflected shadow upside down
    B) smear of cloud [all I love]
    C) three words

Wandered lonely as

White box to be dissolved

Behind the bars
A song or show not mine snowing
                             Our representative

Having broken the thermometer
Holds out a ball of mercury in one slightly shaking hand

Disintegrates sheared off

By wind to reveal the thread-like textures

It's the worked surface that has remained—despite the obvious intention and effort—both illegible and 'white' or blank insofar as we understand that space to be empty. Suggestive of sky, but otherwise unfinished: commentary on attention. What seems not to exist because we aren't willing to attend to or allow for its actual situation? The journalist sticks the microphone up to the face of the grief-struck friend who speaks directly to the vanished as if the dead became the TV audience: "Our thoughts are with you…"


The little white boxes referred to as doves as clouds as "little white boxes" rarely,
If ever, discussed in the same breath with sugar cubes
                                                                           Sweet, aren't they?
Having experimented with the representation Tilted plane picture plane                  window candle cloud mirror shade Under the pale grit of the surface       faint                                lines Fallen pine needles under fallen snow under more recently More or less clear                             caught instances
Slant reference or rather comparison loves doves Stanzas little white Boxes of ash              poem columbarium
Restless flutter from place to place looking for what Glittery plane
Passing                                 reference          suggestions Boxes of moonlight     as if light were lent existence

"Open the box the words inside the box open the box" (Carol Snow): the sense of the thing through the words for not 'in" so there is no—despite the opening—way to release. Already these cubes are a little more worn, a little less white. Heaped into that cage for crickets, a sort of icebox. What if you could arrange to meet someone who had died (what gate is this, colorless). Paler figure and lighter ground: shapes so abstracted the subject is the (shifting) relationship itself

Not, as tongued out, covered with sugar but broken glass. Crushed to a fine dust. Ground
This sky                               so long                        nothing She is almost as real to me as she was               she neither feels nor sees Immense circular smear                     livid                             powdery

Then drink the ink that is your cage, singing insect, representative. Is that true turns into is that possible. Suddenly I was alone with some things: what I was swallowing the material; gradually what I was saying what I was saying. Finally let them dissolve: in each a letter left in a box of dust to be lost among similar compartments. Communicating through a torn throat dark thick blood choking breath. White box. "At last I'm home and have time…," I wrote on the postcard she wouldn't…the words won't reach her.

The right hand like some kind of cloud floats above the rest of the prone figure
He's lying on the couch again rewinding that movie
A puffy glove of cumulonimbus wavers at the end of a sinuous ribbon of arm straying away
The head is somewhat swollen the eyes, worried, open checking the set Rolling in the palm of the other hand a silver ball, liquid, heavy
To be in the megaplex of popcorn-scented tranquility watching things blow up in safety "What am I doing here, dressed in these clothes, writing 'poetry'?" one character poses Like I've never been to the Lake District
Murky water rises under this vacant or pensive mood and he lies Still as if nothing were happening not asleep just "concentrating"
One hand dominates slowly closing From each outstretched finger of the other suspended Drop-shaped drops distorted reflections of light from the screen
One huge white fist turning in the gulf

Golden Hummer out of which two white guys descend in yellow slickers at the storm's start, leaping up into the 110 mph wind to see how far it will blow them, laughing; "in such jocund company"

Cuts back to the looped track of the wide grind
Eyewall making landfall

From Dark Archive, published by University of California. Copyright © 2011 by Laura Mullen. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
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